The Law and The Test

Tyre treads are engineered to provide grip on wet surfaces, and this grip tends to weaken as tyre treads wear down. As those cold, wet and windy nights draw in, and with winter just around the corner, it is important for drivers to take into consideration the change in road surfaces and the depth of road water. Drivers should therefore reduce their speed in accordance with these road conditions and ensure their tyres are in a good condition to make driving a safe experience..

Legal Requirements

UK legislation has set the minimum tread depth for vehicles in the UK to 1.6mm, across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.

To ensure the safety of you and other road users, it is recommended that balding tyres are replaced BEFORE the legal limited is reached – with a good rule of thumb being when the thread reaches a minimum of 3 millimetres in depth.  When the tyre depth is 1.6 millimetres in wet conditions it takes the vehicle an extra two car lengths (8 meters) to stop when travelling at speeds of 50mph. As well as putting your safety at risk, inadequate tread depth on any vehicle’s tyres can result in you getting 3 penalty points on your license and a £2,500 fine.

The 20p Test

Testing your tyre tread depth is very easy and you don’t need any fancy tools, all you need is a 20 pence coin.  This quick and easy test will show you if your tyres are lower than the minimum legal tread depth.

Simply place the coin in between the main grooves on your tyre tread. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted into the tyre grooves, then the tyre is above the legal limit. 

If the outer band of the coin is visible and it cannot be inserted, then the tyre treads are below the legal limit and may be deemed unsafe and illegal. The tyre should be checked immediately by a professional, such as a member of the team at Drivers Autocentre.  It is important to check more than one location around the tyre to gauge a proper judgment of the tyres condition.

Unsure if your tyres need replaced? Contact us today and one of our experts can help you make sure that you stay safe on the roads this winter.